Tag Archives: North Sea

Climate betrayer Keir Starmer’s party won’t reverse new oil and gas licences. Don’t support it

Facemask: the amount of pollution produced by the oil and gas production that Rishi Sunak has authorised and Keir Starmer (pictured) won’t rescind is enormous. Will we all need to go back to wearing face masks, just to save ourselves from choking?

Representatives of Keir Starmer’s STP (Substitute Tory Party, formerly Labour) have admitted that they will not cancel the new North Sea oil and gas drilling licences that Rishi Sunak has given to multinational companies – many of which have given work to his wife’s family business.

It makes no sense at all – unless one assumes that politicians on both sides of the House of Commons are “all in it together”.

Think about this:

So the Green Party is coming forward with realistic solutions to the crises that we are facing.

Is it any wonder, then, that when Thangam Debbonaire also admitted her party would not rescind those new licences, this response came back?

See, Ms Debbonaire can talk until she’s blue in the face (and not just in her politics); we see the difference between what she’s saying and what her party is doing.

And what is the practical result of new oil and gas drilling licences? Here’s a handy snapshot of what has happened already:

This is analysis from The Guardian. According to my little AI friend, “According to an article from The Guardian, new oil and gas licences for the North Sea that the UK government has approved in the past two years will produce as much carbon dioxide as the annual emissions of nearly 14m cars, or the entire yearly emissions of Denmark. The analysis shows that about 28m tonnes of carbon dioxide over the lifetimes of the fields will be increased more than eightfold if potential licences under consideration are also granted

So an eightfold increase would produce as much carbon dioxide as the annual emissions of nearly 112 million cars – on top of the 14 million already being produced.

The Tories – and Keir Starmer’s mob – are literally trying to choke us to death, it seems.

So there seems very little point in supporting either of these two genocidal gangs.

How about giving the Greens a chance instead, then – or any socialist alternative that offers genuinely green environmental policies?


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The big Tory lie: new North Sea gas and oil might not even come back to the UK

Grant Shapps: he likes to spout a lot of nonsense from his base in Welwyn Hatfield (this image is from a BBC interview in 2020) but he’s not so smooth when faced with an interviewer who has checked the facts before talking to him.

The 100 new contracts granted by Rishi Sunak for energy companies to drill for gas and oil in the North Sea do not mean those fossil fuels will be used in the UK, as he falsely claimed.

The drilling will be done by commercial firms who will then sell the fossil fuels they find on the international market. Some of it may come back to the UK but most of it probably won’t.

Here are the facts, presented by Sky’s Jayne Secker to a spluttering Grant Shapps:

Notice how he tried to change the subject when the facts were presented to him?

Oh, these substances have to go to the UK because they are processed here. But that doesn’t mean they are used here.

Oh, but not all of them are used for fuel. Some are turned into plastics. But plastic pollution is harming the planet as badly as global warming.

Oh, but some of it is used for medical devices within the NHS. But that’s a tiny amount that would not justify the granting of any more drilling licences.

It seems ever-more-clear that the new licences are more likely to be a way for Sunak to corruptly reward companies like BP for signing contracts with his father-in-law’s firm Infosys than to improve the UK’s energy security.

If Sunak and/or his government wish to deny this, then there is a simple way to clear the air:

Let’s have an independent public inquiry into the awarding of these contracts: what they are intended to do; the way they have been presented to the public; what the actual consequences are likely to be – and who benefits?


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Sunak’s new North Sea fossil fuel contracts are a statement: ‘I want the world to burn’

This is fine: Rishi Sunak will burn down not only your house but your country and planet if he thinks he can get something out of it.

Rishi Sunak’s Conservative government has announced around 100 new contracts to extract oil and gas – polluting fossil fuels that cause global warming – from the North Sea.

He has claimed – unconvincingly – that this is in line with plans to make the UK a “net zero” polluter – one that does not contribute to global warming – by the year 2050, saying that the nation will still rely on fossil fuels for some of its energy needs for many decades to come, and it is less harmful to source it domestically than import it from abroad.

He is deliberately missing the point – of course – that if the UK doesn’t mine these substances and instead invests in more renewable energy, there would be no need to buy polluting crap from any other countries.

But logic isn’t his strong point. After all, this policy is based on his party’s sliver of success in the July by-elections, when its candidate in Uxbridge and South Ruislip narrowly kept that constituency out of Keir Starmer’s hands.

The win has been pinned on opposition to the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) that charges owners of polluting cars to travel in central London. In fact, it was probably a statement on Keir Starmer’s inability to lead a political party but, as Starmer won’t face that possibility, both parties have been attacking the ULEZ instead.

Yes.

There is now a big Tory campaign to claim that they are on the side of motorists while Starmer’s party is not. This involves attacking the Opposition party’s transport plans and claiming that it sides with media-maligned environmental campaigners like Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil (on the basis of a single donation from a supporter of the latter group):

It’s a typical Tory tactic: divide and rule. They want to convince you that Starmer’s party is financially dependent on people who have already been vilified as crazies for their attempts to inform us about the genuinely insane pollution policies of the current Tory government. And who do the Tories depend on, financially?

The idea is to keep us from asking what is probably the only pertinent question about this affair:

Why are the Tories giving massive new oil and gas drilling contracts to the same giant energy companies that have been massively ripping off their customers to make obscene amounts of profit?

Only today, I notice that BP has announced £2 billion in profit, to go alongside British Gas’s nearly £1 billion. That is money that could have been revitalising the UK’s economy instead, but Sunak and his cronies have no interest in that.

Put it all together and it’s a massive political endorsement for global warming. And it’s utterly insane.

This Site has already reported on the wildfires sweeping across other parts of the globe. As the situation worsens – as it undoubtedly will with national governments blindly extending their reliance on fossil fuels and the companies that provide them – crops will fail.

We will run out of food and have to buy substandard cast-offs from other countries that will also be struggling.

And I have also mentioned scientists’ expectation that the flow of the Gulf Stream, that warms the UK, will be halted, meaning much colder winters and hotter summers. We don’t have the required infrastructure for either.

So it is no surprise that people who actually, genuinely understand the issues are using the social media to post messages like this:

Oh, and by the way, regarding the last part of Chris Packham’s tweet: it won’t even be Rishi Sunak, or Keir Starmer, who will be responsible.

If you vote either of them into power so that they can enact these disastrous policies, then responsibility for killing the world rests on you.


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SNP credibility crashes further after ‘bleak’ oil and gas performance

Bad figures: In July last year Alex Salmond claimed North Sea oil was worth "£300,000 for every man, woman and child in Scotland". He may have been exaggerating - considerably.

Bad figures: In July last year Alex Salmond claimed North Sea oil was worth “£300,000 for every man, woman and child in Scotland”. He may have been exaggerating – considerably. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scotland/10198532/Alex-Salmond-North-Sea-oil-worth-300000-for-every-Scot.html)

 

What was Alex Salmond saying about oil revenues, again?

He said that oil would bring in revenues of £6.8billion – £7.9billion in 2016/17 (thanks to the Huffington Post for the figures).

How likely does this seem, now that industry body Oil & Gas UK has reported that falling oil prices and rising costs meant the sector spent and invested £5.3bn more than it earned from sales during 2014?

That’s right – last year North Sea oil lost almost as much as the SNP said it would earn in 2016-17.

Operating costs are rising, investment is falling, the cost per barrel extracted has rocketed to a record high, and the price of oil internationally is at its lowest in years, according to the BBC.

While all this was taking place, Alex Salmond was telling Scottish people they could rely on oil generating £20.2billion in tax revenues in the first three years of an independent Scotland. Now – again according to the HuffPost – it seems unlikely to generate a quarter of that figure.

It is hard to believe that Mr Salmond did not know the facts about oil when he was offering the Scottish people all his rosy talk about future prosperity based on oil revenues.

Yet even today, many supporters of Scottish nationalism are adamant that Labour (above even the proven liars in the Tory and Liberal Democrat parties) misled them.

It’s certainly true that somebody has been lying to Scotland.

Is anybody brave enough to admit who it really was?

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Setting the record straight on Sturgeon’s fiscal policy

The Resolution Foundation's predictions for government spending, based on the different parties' declared plans.

The Resolution Foundation’s predictions for government spending, based on the different parties’ declared plans.

Vox Political’s article on Nicola Sturgeon’s London speech provoked a disgruntled response from Jonathan Portes. The NIESR boss sent a message stating that the article’s fiscal arguments were out of whack.

He didn’t ask for this blog to straighten them out, but the information he sent, coupled with some other pieces he suggested – by Professor Simon Wren-Lewis and the Resolution Foundation – make it inevitable that another stab is required. If you support the SNP, you’re still not going to like it.

The first comment from Mr Portes is as follows: “1. SNP plan is slower deficit reduction than Lab/LDs, which in turn slower than Cons. All consistent with falling debt/GDP ratio. So all are sustainable.  Haven’t looked at detail, but Simon WL & I both think Lab too cautious – so SNP not obviously crazy.”

Simon Wren-Lewis’s article states:  “In reality what Sturgeon was proposing was still deficit and debt reduction, but just not at the pace currently proposed by Labour.”

And the Resolution Foundation adds: “The SNP would commit to delivering existing 2015-16 plans, as each of the Westminster parties have, before changing course.”

There’s a major point to make here, which all three of the sources above have missed. It’s that the SNP and its adherents have been cursing Labour from High Heaven to Low Hell for committing to Tory austerity policies because Ed Balls promised a Labour government would stick to Coalition spending – note that word, spending – limits for the first year after the general election.

Why have SNP adherents been slating Labour when the SNP has committed itself to the exact same Conservative spending limits, for the exact same period of time? Doesn’t this also make the SNP a party of austerity?

This leads us neatly to a point made by the Resolution Foundation. Ms Sturgeon wants to put a lot of space between SNP plans and those of Labour by claiming that Labour is committed to eliminating the UK’s structural deficit by 2017-18. They say Labour signed up to that when it voted to support the Charter for Budget Responsibility. You may recall there was another big fuss about Labour supporting Tory austerity, being just the same as the Tories, and there being only 17 MPs who oppose austerity (the number who voted against the CBR). Bunkum, according to the Resolution Foundation.

“The ‘Charter for Budget Responsibility’ is highly elastic: it’s not based on a firm commitment to reach balance in 2017-18,” states the Resolution Foundation article. “Instead it represents a rolling ‘aim’ of planning to reach current balance three years down the road.” The article adds: “Most economists are sceptical about how much difference it (the charter) will make.

“So what if Labour targets a current balance in 2019-20 instead? Based on current OBR assumptions this could be achieved with as little as £7 billion of fiscal consolidation in the four years to 2019-20 (including the cost of extra debt interest).”

Labour has made it clear that it plans to make only £7 billion of cuts. As this coincides exactly with the Resolution Foundation’s figures for a 2019-20 budget balance, logic suggests that this is most likely to be what Ed Balls is planning.

So SNP (and Green) adherents who crowed about Labour austerity being as bad as that of the Tories need to apologise – sharpish.

Now that these points are cleared up, let’s look at the substantive issue. Here’s the Resolution Foundation again: “The first minister’s headline was that she favours £180 billion of extra spending in the next parliament relative to current coalition plans… an increase in ‘departmental spending’ of 0.5 per cent a year in real terms over four years [we’ve established that the first year’s spending would adhere to Coalition-planned spending levels]. Our estimates suggest that raising departmental spending by 0.5 per cent in each of the four years after 2015-16 would indeed yield a cumulative increase in spending of around £180 billion (in 2019-20 prices, £160bn in today’s) compared to existing coalition plans. So that seems to fit.

“Another, more conventional, way of putting this is that in the final year of the next parliament, departmental spending would be around £60 billion higher in the SNP scenario than it would be under the coalition’s outline plans. This means that departmental spending would end up in roughly the same place in 2019-20 (in real terms) as it is now. We’d see £8 billion or so of departmental cuts in 2015-16 broadly cancelled out by a rise of around £7 billion across the following four years. It also means that, all else equal, there would still be a (small) UK-wide current deficit come the 2020 election.”

As you can see from the graph, the scenario that suggests a Labour balance in 2017-18 would imply a big difference with the SNP, particularly in the first half of the next Parliament – but, come 2019-20, “there would still be a £48 billion gap between Labour and the coalition plans; not that far short of the £60 billion gap that would exist between the SNP and the coalition”.

The scenario in which Labour balances its budget by 2019-20 “would in theory be consistent with spending roughly £140 billion more than coalition plans.

“The SNP proposal implies increases in total departmental spending of £1-2 billion per year over four years whereas Labour’s 2019-20 scenario implies cuts of £1-2 billion per year over the same period. This is against total departmental spending of around £350 billion. By 2019-20 this difference adds up to roughly a £14 billion gap between the two parties. Now, that’s a real difference but given the scale of the numbers involved, (and the fact that some of Labour’s consolidation may come from tax increases rather than spending cuts), it’s also a relatively modest one.”

It’s more or less the same amount the Coalition Government borrows every month, in fact.

Now let’s throw a spanner in the SNP’s works. The Resolution Foundation points out: “Fiscal discussions of this type tend to suffer from a severe case of false precision. None of the party leaders knows any better than you or I what will happen to productivity next year, never mind in 2020… Any difference between, say, the Labour and SNP spending plans would be dwarfed by the fiscal implications of even modest boosts (or dips) in productivity. Indeed, even the very large difference between the SNP (or Labour) and the coalition’s plans could be overshadowed by a significant shift in productivity trends. And, to Sturgeon’s credit, her remarks this week emphasised productivity.”

Yes – productivity. Does anybody remember that, prior to the referendum, the SNP wanted Scottish voters to believe that any borrowing that might be necessary in an independent Scotland would be offset by increased productivity? What did Simon Wren-Lewis have to say about that? Oh yes: “Governments that try to borrow today in the hope of a more optimistic future are not behaving very responsibly.”

But that is exactly what Ms Sturgeon was proposing for the whole of the UK; borrowing on the assumption of increased productivity.

Here’s a chance to put another SNP myth to bed, from the same writer. In his article about Ms Sturgeon’s speech, Professor Wren-Lewis states: “Of course this is the same person who, with Alex Salmond, was only six months ago proposing a policy that would have put the people of Scotland in a far worse fiscal position than they currently are, an argument that has been reinforced so dramatically by the falling oil price. You could say that it is a little hypocritical to argue against UK austerity on the one hand, and be prepared to impose much greater austerity on your own people with the other.”

The argument he mentions ran as follows: “Scotland’s fiscal position would be worse as a result of leaving the UK for two main reasons. First, demographic trends are less favourable. Second, revenues from the North Sea are expected to decline. This tells us that under current policies Scotland would be getting an increasingly good deal out of being part of the UK [and therefore independence would be detrimental].”

He added that the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which had independently analysed the SNP figures, had made a mistake on interest rates. The IFS analysis, he wrote, “assumes that Scotland would have to pay the same rate of interest on its debt as the rUK. This has to be wrong. Even under the most favourable assumption of a new Scottish currency, Scotland could easily have to pay around one per cent more to borrow than rUK. In their original analysis the IFS look at the implications of that (p35), and the numbers are large.”

The Resolution Foundation notes that “the flipside of higher spending, all else equal, would be higher debt and higher debt interest payments”.

So the SNP plan, as this blog pointed out, could create an interest-payment problem for the next government that bites into the extra money said to be for services.

Mr Portes made two other minor points, as follows: “2. Your stuff about Lab could spend more if economy does better wrong way round. If economy worse, we need higher deficit. Over time, as income goes up, so does/should spending. But short-term macro should be countercyclical.”

When I wrote the material about Labour spending more in a better-performing economy, I was thinking of the Labour government immediately after World War II. The current Labour Party has mentioned this period in recent speeches and releases, and it seems clear that Messrs Miliband, Balls et al consider their task, if elected in May, to be similar to that faced by Mr Attlee and his party – the reconstruction of the UK after a long period of destruction.

Are we to believe the economy is likely to worsen, in which case more borrowing will be needed? It’s certainly possible that major shocks are on the horizon. This writer is in no position to speculate.

“3. Finally, stuff about credit rating agencies/bond markets/Greece is absurd propaganda. I’ve written on this many times.” He’s right; it wouldn’t have been included it if Yr Obdt Srvt had stopped to think about it, but the article was up against a deadline and this writer was throwing in all the cautionary words he could find.

So let us forget about them. Here are a few more. Simon Wren-Lewis, at the end of his article, notes: “I read a blog post recently that suggested this was an election Labour would be better off losing… A Labour government dependent on SNP support would be abandoned by the SNP at the moment of greatest political advantage to the SNP and disadvantage to Labour. However if we assume that the oil price stays low there is no way a rational SNP would want to go for independence again within the next five years. It might be much more to its long term advantage to appear to be representing Scotland in a responsible way as part of a pact with Labour.”

Is the SNP rational? All the evidence available so far suggests it isn’t.

It put forward arguments that were deceptive about an independent Scotland’s economic future.

Its representatives and followers spread lies about Labour economic policy.

All indications suggest the SNP will try to create the conditions required for Scottish independence at the earliest opportunity, and then leave the rest of the UK hanging.

The original article on Ms Sturgeon’s speech ended by saying the SNP would be hard to trust.

After the findings of this one, it is nigh-on impossible to do so.

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